Yet her reason told her it must all be true, terribly, infamously true, and that he was one of them, perhaps the leader of them.
One by one the members of the various scouting parties had come creeping in through the forest. All of them verified what Carter had already reported. One man, more venturesome than the others, had even dared to creep close up to the rear of the house and had seen through the window the workmen, gathered about their supper of beer and sausages, toasting the Kaiser with the unanimity of a set formality.
As the light waned, secured from observation by the undergrowth between their position and the house, they sat there discussing plans of action, selecting while the light still permitted the most advantageous posts from which they could make a concerted rush on the plotters. Fleck was insistent that they should do nothing to betray their presence until after the Hoffs had arrived, and Dean once more voiced his protest against Jane taking part in the attack. "I will be of far more use than you with your crippled arm," she resentfully insisted. "I can handle a revolver as well as any man, and a rifle, too, if necessary."
"Dean is right," Fleck decided. "It is no work for a woman. Here is an automatic, Miss Strong. You will stay here until after we have rounded them up. If we get the worst of it, which is not likely to happen, make your way to the automobile and telephone the commandant at West Point."
Reluctantly Jane assented. She realized that further protest was useless. Fleck was in command, and his orders must be obeyed unquestioningly if their plans for the capture of the plotters were to be successfully carried out.
Presently they heard in the distance the sound of an automobile approaching, and soon they could distinguish its lights as it negotiated the rough, winding woodland road that led to the house. A toot from the horn as it arrived brought the men within the house tumbling out the front door with huzzas of greeting for their leaders, and Fleck observed that all the men as they came out automatically raised their hands in salute.
"Ex-German soldiers, every one of them," he muttered.
As the Hoffs got out of the car a shaft of light from the opened front door threw the figures of the new arrivals into sharp relief, and Jane saw, with a shudder of terror, that Frederic was dressed in an aviator's costume. There was no longer any doubt left in her mind that he was one of those going to certain death, and a dry sob choked her.